Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Uncle K

Great profile from the Honolulu Star-Bulletin of Kahauanu Lake, baritone ukulele player, and a true pioneer of Hawaiian music.

"As a musician, he took the lead in bringing the baritone ukulele into the Hawaiian music mainstream by playing a custom-made instrument designed with a low bridge and thick back.

"He elevated the basic technique of strumming to an art form while also demonstrating the importance of going beyond simple chords. He bucked tradition with arrangements in which the ukulele defined the melody rather than the rhythm of a song, helping the humble uke make the leap to lead instrument rather than a sidekick to the guitar or piano."

Link Discuss

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Better Living...Through Plangency!

Yet another example of how the uke makes you smart...Link Discuss

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Midwest Ukefest

While we're talking Key Strummers, be sure to mark your calendar for the Midwest Ukefest, October 31 thru November 2, 2003 in Indianapolis. It's being hosted by those lovable Hoosiers themselves. Everyone from Beloff (Jim and Liz) to Bayless (Pops) will be presenting and teaching. Visit this link for more information and inspriation. If you're within 1,000 miles of the Missisippi, you HAVE to go.Link Discuss

Key Strummers to Perform at Memorial

WRTV reports on memorial services for Indiana Governor O'Bannon:

"Seven governors and most of Indiana's congressional delegation are scheduled to attend a public, interfaith service to be held on the Statehouse's west steps Friday.

"Former first lady Judy O'Bannon said she wants the service to reflect the kind of man her husband was. Personal touches will especially be reflected in the music.

"Performers will include the Circle City Sound Barbershop Chorus and the Key Strummers, a group of children who play novelty jazz on ukulele. O'Bannon was particularly fond of barbershop music and of the Key Strummers, who come from the Key Learning Community in Indianapolis."

Link Discuss

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Jake on Hawai'i TV, September 17

From today's Honolulu Star-Bulletin:

"Jake Shimabukuro's summer concert adventure in Japan will be highlighted in a special half-hour show, "Jake Live in Japan," airing on KHON-2 from 9:30 to 10 p.m. tomorrow.

"Jake Live in Japan" will also be rebroadcast at 5:30 p.m. Saturday on KHON-2."

Link Discuss

Sunday, September 14, 2003

C'mon People Now, Smile on Your Brother...In Kealakekua, Hawai'i

In scouring the Web for interesting bits of ukulele culture, we frequently run across stories in which legendary musicians and guitarists cite the ukulele as the instrument that they cut their teeth on. (Dick Dale, Chrissie Hynde, and Joe Strummer as a short list for starters...) More recently we've run across players like Eddie Vedder and the late George Harrison who picked up the uke after earning their wings as ace guitar players. Now here's our latest discovery--and what a great story.

Jesse Colin Young, folk rock icon, co-founder of the "No Nukes" movement, and it seems, world-class dad, loses almost everything to a fire in Marin County, California, then moves to Kona on the Big Island of Hawai'i. Plants coffee, writes more songs, and, when he finds that there is no ukulele instructor for his kids' school, teaches himself to play and volunteers to keep the flame alive. He's reportedly about to release an album that will have a major ukulele focus. He's dedicated profits from an earlier CD to The Kona Pacific School, the local Waldorf School, and is working hard to raise money for a new facility.

Spend some time on his site to learn more about this remarkable man. His music page features a short video clip of Jesse playing "My Little Grass Shack," and a downloadable mp3 of his song, "Aloha e," which he wrote as a fond farewell to those lost on 9/11. Bet he makes a great cup of coffee, too. Link Discuss

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Lord "Uken"?

Well, he may not have been Lord Lucan , but he did play the ukulele! (Okay, so it's a slow day for ukulele news...) Link Discuss

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Uke Film Oddity

"The greatest film ever made"? You decide. But Sid Laverents's "Multiple Sidosity" is the only amateur-made film included in The Library of Congress's National Film Registry. And it certainly sounds cool:

"The movie opens in Sid’s living room as he and his wife Adelaide are enjoying Christmas. Sid opens a bulky present as she looks on...it’s a reel to reel two track recorder! After his wife chides him to save the ribbons he starts experimenting. He uses a metronome and records himself whistling and playing ukulele...Then the magic happens: we hear a brilliantly executed multi-track recording of the peppy song “Nola” (all instruments and singing done by Sid...).

"And accompanying the music are visuals that for decades have astounded and confounded the rare audiences that have seen this film. Whenever a new instrument or verse is introduced, by use of inventive black mat multiple exposures, we see two, four and eventually ten little heads of Sid playing different instruments simultaneously...

"This brilliant, joyous film is almost impossible to describe. All I can do is vigorously urge you to see the movie any way you can."

Screen shots from the film are here. Sid is still around, and you can order a copy of his films from him directly (address, etc. at this Link.) Discuss (via bananaslug)
Concert for George

Press release today about a George Harrison tribute film to be released theatrically on October 3, 2003,

"Rock music's most celebrated musicians gathered at Royal Albert Hall in London on Nov. 29, 2001, to pay tribute to one of their own, the legendary George Harrison, on the one year anniversary of his death. On that magical night, Harrison's closest friends gathered to perform a collection of his music for a live audience. Concert For George is far more than a concert film; it is a soulful cinematic tribute to a musician whose vision transcended the ordinary and whose talents contributed to a revolution in the music industry.

"Under the musical direction of Harrison's longtime friend Eric Clapton, the film captures an emotional gathering of musicians such as Jeff Lynne, Paul McCartney, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Billy Preston and Ringo Starr. Truly a rare moment in music history, this documentary showcases these legends of music not likely to perform together on the same stage again."

Paul McCartney plays ukulele (presumably on "Something," which he's played regularly in concert recently) and, although the release does not say, I'll bet that you'll see Joe Brown on uke for "I'll See You in My Dreams." Link Discuss

Monday, September 08, 2003

Jennifer Foster

Meet Jennifer Foster, a Toronto-based performer whose early musical experience included playing in a ukulele group in New Brunswick.

"'I was a ukulele extremist. I just loved it so much and stuck with it for years, but it was such an uncool thing to do and carrying it into the junior high every Tuesday became too traumatic and I quit...'

"Now in Toronto, and playing to slightly more discerning human audiences, Jennifer offers up her jangly pop blend on guitar and treats them to a little crowd-pleasing ukulele rock. What was once the stuff of teenage angst is now the hook behind one of the album's most lively tracks, Ukulele Dropout.

"'That song is really about the big lesson in my life - be unique, do your own thing.'"

Link Discuss (via Bananaslug)
2003 Southern California Uke Festival

Mark your calendars for the 2nd annual Souther California Ukulele Festival, Saturday, October 18, 2003 in Cerritos, CA. Following the festival there'll be a luau and evening conctert featuring Janet Klein, Ian Whitcomb, King Kukulele and Kaulana Ka Hale Kula 'O Na Pua 'O Ka 'Aina. Lots more information on the festival site. Register now and save money, too. Link Discuss

Friday, September 05, 2003

Ukelooza This Sunday!

If you'll be in the Seattle area this Sunday, you won't want to miss the 3rd (I think) annual Ukelooza at Re-bar. I hadn't seen any announcement pop up on the web, so I pinged Carla Schricker at Re-bar. Carla replied:

"Hi Gary! Thanks for writing! As a matter of fact, I just found out last
night that Ukelooze IS happening THIS SUNDAY at Re-bar!...

...The doors open at 6.30pm, and the show starts at 7.30pm. It's $10, and
there'll be a raffle and other great stuff."

Here's a link to an announcement for last year's event. The Re-bar site is here. Oh, and please note: 21 and over only (sorry, kids). Discuss (Thanks, Carla!)

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